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Research degrees
Research areas
Children, young people and families
Sports and fitness

Sports and fitness

The OU Sport Research Group is a sub-group of Childhood, Youth, and Sport Group led by Dr Ben Langdown, which includes an interdisciplinary team of researchers designing, managing and completing research projects which are ultimately aimed at understanding and improving the lives and working practices of athletes and sports coaches.

The multi-disciplinary team draws upon a range of approaches and methodological expertise (including: auto/ethnography, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, grounded theory, creative analytical practices). The team’s research spans across numerous sport and exercise-related disciplines including coaching pedagogy, psychology, sociology, nutrition, strength and conditioning, motor control biomechanics and youth development in sport. Qualitative and quantitative research projects cover particular expertise of different sports including, athletic injury, athlete analysis, monitoring and training, post traumatic growth, maltreatment/abuse, identity, embodiment, career transitions, coach education and specific sports activities.

Qualifications available

PhD, Professional Doctorate


For detailed information on current fees visit Research degree fees.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) plus either a masters degree or research methods training at masters level (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

  • Equality and sport
  • Women’s sporting lived experiences
  • Abuse, maltreatment and athlete welfare in sport
  • Chronic illnesses (e.g. asthma) and sporting participation
  • Athlete transitions (e.g. retirement, motherhood and sport)
  • Athlete adversity, post traumatic growth and resiliency
  • Psychological aspects of a sports injury
  • Coach-athlete relationships
  • Expertise in a variety of sports (e.g. combat sports, team sports, athletics, swimming, golf)
  • Golf biomechanics
  • Golf strength and conditioning
  • Youth development in sport / physical education
  • Sport coaching and coach education
  • Professional and personal development of students/trainees and staff in education/sport science
  • Wellbeing of informal carers.

Current/recent research projects

  • A phenomenological study into the asthma and sporting/exercise experiences
  • Negotiating Netball: an ethnographic study of female sports participation
  • A qualitative study into the transitional experiences of elite sportswomen from high, moderate and low risk sport
  • “I like to climb and pick coconuts”: towards a child-guided participatory research methodology to increase insight into 7-11 year olds’ perceptions about physical activity
  • Making sense of the socio-economic influences on children’s participation in sport

Potential supervisors


Runner on the sports track

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Inma Alvarez, Director of Postgraduate Research Studies
Phone: +44 (0)1908 659169